The dismissal by the Dublin High Court of an appeal against the building of the long awaited North South Interconnector in the Irish Republic has been warmly welcomed by business groups in Northern Ireland.
In the latest chapter of a long running story, the court ruled against the bid by opponents of the cross-border high-power electricity line in their ongoing battle to stop the prpject.
The move, though still subject to further action, clears the way for EirGrid to build a section of the North-South Interconnector on pylons over 140km of countryside from a substation in Woodland, Co Meath, to Clontibret in Co Monaghan.
In the province the decision was greeted by business groups and system operator SONI, all of whom have been firmly behind the project to provice a second, more substantial link between the two jurisdictions.
It represents a key component of all-Ireland plans to secure supplies and modernise the transmission system.
The planning application for the Northern Ireland end of the project went to a public hearing in February and a decision is expected in the autumn.
“Given that planning permission for the Southern section of the North South Interconnector was granted by An Bord Pleanála last December, we must now receive a positive decision from the Northern Ireland Planning Inquiry held back in February this year,” said Ann McGregor, CEO at the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber).
“The North South Interconnector is vital to ensure the effective operation of an efficient all-island electricity market, to exert downward pressure on electricity prices for business and domestic consumers throughout Northern Ireland, to ensure a secure supply of electricity for our industry and business and also to utilise renewable energy resources.”
Angela McGowan, CBI NI regional director said: “We now need urgent clarity on the northern section of this economically vital interconnector project. We would encourage the Planning Appeals Commission and the Department for Infrastructure to reach a positive decision on the planning application as soon as possible.”
SONI general manager Robin McCormick said: “This project is vital to Northern Ireland’s security of supply and will also significantly reduce costs to consumers across the island by improving the efficiency of the all-island electricity market.”